Napoleon Hill said that he practiced a kind of meditation where he would imagine himself sitting in a room with some of the greatest thinkers and leaders from history. He confessed that often times, one or more of these mental apparitions would express something that he himself couldn’t possibly have known of or conceived. Now, whether Mr. Hill was simply able to use this psychological exercise to put his mind in the kind of state needed to solve complex problems by using the mental projections to conjure wisdom from deep within his subconscious mind, or he was actually able to call the dead into the privacy of his office is completely irrelevant, because it helped him see his way clear through his problems.
What Mr. Hill did was not all that dissimilar to what our ancestors would do to “commune with the gods” either with or without hallucinogens, and it speaks to what our minds are capable of when we allow them the freedom to roam and just let them be. In taking a page from that book, I myself have long since engaged in a practice where I would approach the gods and entreat them for wisdom and would often be greatly rewarded for my efforts. Of course, it’s irrelevant if a deity actually bothered to come down to Long Island to speak with me, or if I was simply allowing my brain to project a manifestation from my subconscious mind, as the effect is ultimately the same. Like Mr. Hill, I will often find these “spirits” saying things I would never think to say, helping me work through problems I was otherwise stuck on.
For years I’ve spent much quality time in such communion with the gods. From chatting and dancing on empty beaches with Aphrodite, to battling the mighty Hanuman in deep forests. I would catch sunsets with Gaia, and wave to Apollo at sunrise. Whenever possible, I would take a few moments or a few hours to meet with and honor Divinity, in whatever form it graced my errant human existence.
I should probably clarify that I can’t physically “see” or “hear” any of the gods. I sometimes use the word “hallucination” in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, but it’s not really like that. The exercise involves my imagination, not too dissimilar to what kids do when playing with an imaginary friend. It sounds nuts, I know, but the same technique was used by Albert Einstein when he conceptualized the workings of the universe, as did Carl Jung when he wrote the Red Book, and if it was good enough for those intellectual giants, I figure it could work for anyone else. In other words, you can think what you want about my mental stability, but I’m in great company. In any case, with every divine encounter I learned and grew as a man, but it was one encounter this past Christmas Eve when everything finally started to really shift for me.
A client at my job reported receiving a positive Covid test the day before, so the place was shut down to be decontaminated, and I was unexpectedly given the day off. I then used that time to answer a compulsion to visit McCallister County Park – a nature preserve about an hour and a half away from my home. I loaded my day pack with water and snacks and set off for an adventure.
To start with, I drove all way there to find that the parking lot near the preserve was full, which meant that I had to park in town and walk roughly two and a half miles up a rocky beach just to get to the park itself. It wasn’t all that bad, really, as I got to meet some interesting people and play with some beautiful dogs along the way. Once I made it to the park, I allowed my subconscious mind to guide me, which meant that I had to scale a nearly vertical, sandy cliff bluff of about two hundred or so feet in height. At the top was a tree with scraggly roots sticking out of the cliff face where I made a small offering and said a prayer to entreat the gods for an audience. I then had to tramp my way along more massive dunes until I could get down to the preserve itself, where a hill at the far end of the property called to me. Once at the top I found a clearing that overlooked the harbor, and there, sitting resplendent upon a massive, downed tree was the One-Eyed-Wanderer himself, Odin.
In order to be in the right mental state to connect with the gods, ancient peoples had to go through hours, or even days of preparation. Fasts, hallucinogenic substances, and even physical trials all helped to tune an acolyte’s brain to speak with Deity. I wasn’t fasting, but I wasn’t well-fed either. I wasn’t on a hallucinogen, but the physical trials of trudging along the beach for miles, and scaling sandy cliffs meant that my asthmatic body was leaving my brain starved for oxygen. I guess that was close enough, because by that point I was deep into the kind of imagined hallucination I had sought.
“Ahh! An adventurer!” he happily boomed, “Come, Friend! Sit! I’m sure you have journeyed far to get here! Come and regale me with the tale of your adventures!”
I let out a sigh of relief and walked toward the tree, when his two wolves, Geri and Freki, emerged from either side and walked up to me. They stood at eye level to me, and each sniffed me, suspiciously. I, in turn, displayed no fear, and raised my hands to stroke their faces. When I did, a gentle breeze blew under my hands and around my finger, almost as if to simulate their fur on my skin.
“You like wolves?” Odin chuckled.
“I’ll be honest, I haven’t encountered too many.” I answered.
“Ahh! Well, they’re nothing to worry about, so long as you don’t prove to be a meal. Anyway, come! Take a seat and tell me of your adventures in getting to this place!”
I remembered learning about how my Germanic ancestors would often exaggerate their exploits as a matter of etiquette. When told around the fire, a long walk through a hilly forest to a blind where a deer was shot would become a harrowing adventure through dangerous mountains and ravines to grapple with wild beasts. This was not done as a means to inflate their egos, especially since the people who heard the stories knew it was just bluster; it was a custom that was born out of mutual respect. A man would tell inflated tales of his exploits with beasts and women as a way to entertain their peers, and their audience would thank them with almost mock belief. Then the next man in the group would stand and tell his tale, and so on, tightening the bond between the men of the tribe. I recognized that Odin was inviting me to participate in the same ancient custom, but this was only to get his attention so that I could entreat him for wisdom. The trial to attain the prize I sought was still not over.
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